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Property Management Minutes

Thoughts and Observations on Marketing, Leasing, Maintenance and Property Management Operations

Increase Resident Referrals

Increase Resident Referrals
Referrals continue as the most popular source of prospects to our community.  So, it only makes sense that we focus to increase resident referrals. We monitor the reviews and encourage satisfied customers to share their experience.  Even with a growing range of virtual experiences,  the leading influencer in both sending visitors to the community, but also visitors that make the decision to lease is the resident referral. Why are these people talking about your community? In some cases, it is our current residents.  They are referring friends and families in response to the offer of a resident referral.  An opportunity for some cash in their pocket or a discount on rent.  As well as the opportunity to have friends, coworkers and family as neighbors. Another source of referrals are the satisfied former residents.  It’s always a pleasure and a true sign of satisfaction when residents returns to your community. Social media makes it easy for an individual that has moved to another city to keep in touch with former colleagues or friends.  It only takes a second for someone to ask, “Did you like the apartment community you were living at before you moved?”  Social media is a great tool to maintain a steady stream of communication.  This allows former residents  the opportunity to easily direct referrals in the future. How To Keep In Touch Ask departing residents if their email will remain the same.  Possibly confirm a forwarding address, this will allow you to keep in touch.  It also provides the information to start a special email distribution list.......
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Update Team Meeting Agenda With Recaps

Update Team Meeting Agenda With Recaps
Update  Team Meeting Agenda with Recaps at the beginning and end of each day.  We can improve efficiency and effectiveness. The value of the team meeting is unquestionable. But the weekly team meeting is not the only occasion that we communicate with our team. Communicating Changes in the Daily Recap The team meeting agenda with the tentative work schedule that we communicated at the beginning of the week is not cast in stone. There will continue to be changes move in dates change new move out notices emergency service requests new lease move in dates Updates in the Daily Recaps Communication with our team needs to continue on a daily basis.  Unstructured communication, comments on the fly, are quickly forgotten and may not get to the person assigned to that task.  A text that there’s a change can easily be overlooked.  Lack of communication about changes can easily result in frustration.  We must be intentional, thorough and detailed with the communication. Today’s agenda Update team meeting agenda with recaps at the beginning and end of each day will insure that all members of the team stayed informed.  This, also reinforces one point where the team should look for updates and changes their leader, the manager. The kickoff and close out meeting allows every team member to update the status of their individual projects and assignments.  There is value to recapping items at the end of the day, it reinforces the purpose and responsibility for each person to report the next day.  It lets them know in advance you’re counting on them to contribute to that is scheduled for the next ......
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Don’t Underestimate The Value Of A Leasing Appointment

Calendar appointmentIts easy to underestimate the value of a leasing appointment. Offer The Invitation The conclusion of every leasing contact whether phone, email or text;  should be the offer to schedule an appointment for the future prospect to visit the property. Consider the difference in a question , “Would you be interested in scheduling an appointment to tour our model?” versus, “I’m available at either 1:15 or 2:30, this afternoon; would either of those times work for you?” There is clearly an entirely different tone in the need for an appointment.  If an individual is hesitant to pick an appointment time, options of virtual or self-guided tours might work. The lack of appointments for leasing or renewals creates chaos, confusion and frustration. After a morning with little to no leasing activity, the afternoon usually brings more “drive by” traffic. With potential staff shortages to accommodate lunch hours, prospects are faced with a potential wait of 15 to 20 minutes to have personal time with a leasing professional. Professional Attitude Scheduling appointments for apartment tours, lease signing and renewals establishes the professional atmosphere for the leasing office. How often would someone simply walk in to a real estate office in their efforts to possibly buy a home? Consider the services that require appointments to those that do not..medical services vs retail shopping, fine dining versus fast food. Its easy to identify a busy day and adjust schedules to meet the work flow. A day with four apartment tours, two lease signing appointments and three rene......
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Benefits of Weekend Leasing Hours

Benefits of Weekend Leasing Hours
There are many benefits to weekend hours in the leasing center. Property management is a customer service industry.  We provide, service and maintain homes for our residents. While we do have prospects that visit the leasing center on weekdays, its generally on the way to or from, squeezed in during the lunch hour or doctors visit ended quickly. Any one of these quick spur of the moment visits, is the foundation for the “I’m just looking around, not planning to make a decision” introduction before we even started to complete our guest card. By acknowledging the importance of this decision, the value of the follow up visit increases.  We can schedule the weekend appointment on the calendar .  This guarantees time and attention for their future home decision. There are lots of details we can focus on, with a little more time: bring the significant other and fine tune measuring decisions.. measure rooms. confirm parking tour amenities Assisting Current Residents Weekends are the perfect opportunity to assist our residents. Maintenance call backs on the completed service requests.  Scheduling follow up repairs on work that wasn’t able to be completed in the previous week. Often maintenance callbacks seem destined to the world of lost voicemails. But weekends allow both an opportunity to call residents at home instead of at work, or even stop by.  With a quick call to confirm a convenient time, we can confirm they are satisfied with the maintenance repair that we performed for them. Prospect Call Backs Prospect call ba......
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Benefits From A Leasing Concession

Benefits From A Leasing Concession
  There are benefits for an apartment community with a leasing concession. First, ads offering dollars off attract more attention.  This is an opportunity that we can maximize.  Our adds include the information for the dollars saved, but we miss the opportunity to maximize this value. Instead of simply stating $200 off the rent.  If we annualize that saving to: $2400 saving this year.  We want the largest impact we can get …the eye-catching difference between.  Save $100 and save $1200 is significant. Another perspective might be: NO Application fee NO Move In costs, $0 (zero dollars) for move in cost But what value does this represent? Save $125 with NO Move in cost. We have to let our prospects see and feel the value that they will experience with this offer.   Another perspective is the percent of the savings…save 20% or 30% might be a better attention getter than the actual dollars.  As with any advertisement, we want to stand out from our competition. Concessions Can Be Problem Solvers Whether the visits to your community have dropped or maybe there’s a floorplan or specific home that has been vacant for too long, a move in concession can be used to fix that problem. Advertising dollars off creates interest in your homes. Offering a one time concession, or a monthly reduction because an apartment is in a less than perfect location creates an economic benefit for someone that is shopping for a specific price point. A Concession Can Be Your Closi......
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Apartment Accessories Make Lasting Impressions

Sink and personal hygiene accessories in bathroomAdding apartment accessories can be the pop of color to make a model tour memorable. The apartment tour is our presentation of our product. Every available apartment is a potential home to tour with our prospect. When our prospect wants a tour of future homes, we can provide a tour of either furnished or unfurnished homes. Sink and personal hygiene accessories in bathroom There are several terms on the list of property management vocabulary, that are industry standards, but not marketing friendly. Unit Project Tenant I’d add “vacant” to this list. Who wants to tour a vacant apartment? Make It Memorable There are several tools to create a lasting impression with an unfurnished model home. Adding accessories to an area of the apartment, or decorating around a seasonal theme creates a Mini Model. Advantages to Mini Models are inexpensive to set up can be quickly changed with the season. moving to a new location takes minutes. pops of color or unique accessories can be the reference point when we’re reviewing apartment choices. But the preparation of a mini model requires planning and preparation.   A hodge podge of abandoned furniture will not improve the marketing presence of the apartment, (with evergrowing concerns about bedbugs…this could create a whole new range of problems.)       Mini Model Supplies A mini-model can fit any budget. Mini models can be structured with budgets ranging from $25 to $100.  The presence of kitchen, bath, closet or laundry accessories can soften the stark appearance of an unfu......
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Asking “Is Your Move In Date Flexible?”

  Asking “Is your move in date flexible?“, can be the perfect response when a prospect indicates they have no immediate  relocation plans. Leasing professional are occasionally frustrated by the prospect that’s looking for an apartment today, but no plans to move? Consider, that there may be more to the story. I’ve been a member of the property management industry my entire adult life.  Other than the occasional competition shop, I can honestly tell you that I have never randomly visited an apartment community and asked for a tour just to occupy some time. But I’ve experienced the frustration with responses to  “When are you planning to move?” I don’t know no definite plans when school gets out in the fall In the summer Anytime but now…. Here’s where we go wrong.  We’re satisfied with this non-answer. Keep Asking Questions If someone indicates they have plans to move anytime in the future. That is still a lot to work with.  And here’s the key question….the airlines use it, and we should too! “Are your moving plans flexible?” There’s a very real possibility that our prospect isn’t being completely honest about their moving plans.  They’re afraid we will try to force them to make a decision before they’re ready. With no pending moving day, they don’t have to commit.  In turn, we don’t ask the closing the lease question because we’re not talking about a specific apartment home, because they’re plans are too far in the future.  But we can still have a closing approach. What Would It Take If the situation was right, would they? C......
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Increase Occupancy With Word of Mouth Referrals

Increase Occupancy with Referrals  We can increase the occupancy at our apartment community simply with the conversations we have with local businesses. We can create word of mouth referrals.  Referrals are consistently the highest contributor identified as the source of visiting traffic at an apartment community. The days of depending on advertisements to be your leading source of prospect traffic are long gone. Potential residents can learn the basics; rental rates, amenities and floor plan types from Internet ads and locator services.  This information is at their fingertips twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Once a prospect has narrowed the field to a couple of communities, the next level of inquiry involves reviews. The prospect starts their own review search.  Do they know any one that has lived at the community? And if that query isn’t successful, it goes a step further, asking their immediate circle of friends and family, if they know anyone that can offer a personal experience. We have the opportunity to create our own flow of referral information by sharing information every where we go. Our visits to the hardware, office supply and delivery location, need to include the greeting, or closing.” If you know someone who’s looking for an apartment, send them my way!”  Referred by a friend, family member, former resident, current resident, people have a comfort level of knowing someone else can offer some positive feedback or firsthand knowledge on their potential choice. Create Referrals How are you working the referral tree? Referral offers are often i......
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The Role of Social Recognition in Employee Retention

Social Recognition is defined as an “employee reward and recognition methodology.” An effective Social Recognition program doesn’t happen without planning.  Employee rewards start with showing appreciation for the efforts to contribute to the team.  But there’s so much more to offer constructive recognition to employees that might not receive the recognition they deserve. Failure to recognize the contribution of team members is one of the reasons that employees quit. Apartment communities can’t function without the housekeeping, maintenance and grounds crew.  They clean the common areas, care for the grounds and prepare apartment homes for new residents.  Team recognition from colleagues, prospects or vendors can be as valuable to employee retention as compensation and benefits. Housekeeping and Maintenance teams are the backbone of every Property Management staff.  Ownership of the finished product increases by acknowledging and recognizing the efforts of staff. Start the social recognition environment during the leasing process and the move in appointment.  Include the Maintenance or housekeeping team for quick introductions with new residents. The Hospitality Model The hospitality industry incorporates this recognition with comment cards left in guest rooms and signed by the housekeeper.  For apartment communities a welcome letter signed by maintenance, housekeepers and any contractors who participated in the turnover preparation of the apartment home can initiate this recognition.   Include a Team Introduction Letter in the Welcome Move In Package.  The letter, including pictures of the entire team must be revised with any staff changes.  In addition to names and photos, include years of service and a hand......
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“Spring Forward” Is a Preventive Maintenance Reminder

spring forwardThe phrase, Spring Forward is a schedule reminder for Preventive Maintenance. The change to Daylight Savings Time is a calendar point when  residential home owners are encouraged to check the smoke detectors in their homes. Apartment residents can benefit by being encouraged to do the same. Time and time again, fires are reported with fatalities.  These tragedies occur in both single family homes and apartments.  It’s hard to understand how this happens with the range of devices available to notify individuals of fire and smoke in their homes. However, smoke detectors cannot be effective if they’re disabled. Most apartment communities have a policy to issue warnings or lease violations if a smoke detector is disabled by the resident.  The disabling of a smoke detector is rendering a safety feature of the apartment home inactive. The lease presentation and apartment tours can educate residents.  Disabling safety equipment places them in personal danger in addition to violating the lease.  Repeated documented violations could warrant eviction (depending on the specific language of the lease and community policies.) Resident Education Education for residents and staff has many benefits.  During the apartment tours and inspections point out the smoke detectors.  Identify each location and their functionality as a marketing tool. placing a smoke detector in every bedroom. understanding the carbon monoxide detector. the reason for a smoke detector on each level of the apartment home. why smoke detectors are hardwired to a building alarm, with a battery back up. Policy for Disabling Smoke Detectors The impact and consequences of disa......
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